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Kimati Dinizulu

Instrument: PercussionAMT Products Used: ERTS

“The Microphones at AMT are totally unsurpassed. I have been playing my drums since I was old enough to walk. I’ve played in all kinds of venues and studies of maximum standard for numerous years. Les and the rest of the AMT team have my highest admirat” – Kimati Dinizulu

Nana Kimati Dinizulu first heard the sound of the drums in his mother’s womb. Those echoes were the drums of his father. For several generations, the Dinizulu family has been involved in music. Mr. Dinizulu’s father, the late Nana Yao Opare Dinizulu was a world renowned African drummer. His mother, Alice Dinizulu, was a principle dancer for Asadata Dafora’s Dance Company which was the first dance company to put African dance, song and music on the Broadway stage in the United States of America from the 1930’s to the 1950’s.

In order to gain a deeper understanding of African tradition and culture, Kimati Dinizulu, as a young man traveled to Ghana, West Africa where he lived and studied for two years after which he returned to the United States. He subsequently has made over 30 trips to Africa where he now resides part of the year. While in Ghana, he studied with master drummers Kofi Nabenadi, C.K. Ganyo and Sully Emmorro. He also studied with elders of the Fanti people, the master drummers whose tutelage proved invaluable in his development as a leading practitioner of African drumming. A major influence on his musical growth and creative energies was his involvement with the Fanti’s Asafo (warrior) music, a tradition dating back many centuries. Apart from this, Mr. Dinizulu studied extensively with Haitian master drummers Louis Celestine, Frisner Augustin and Alphonse Cimber. He also studied various forms of traditional music from Brazil with the late Loramil Machado. Additionally, Mr. Dinizulu has studied African and African-American hand drumming with his father the late Nana Yao Opare Dinizulu, the late Baba Chief Bey (James Hawthorne Bey), the late Baba Kwame Ishangi, and many others. He has also conducted extensive research with the Maroons of Jamaica, the Ewe of Togo, the Orisha worshippers of Trinidad and Tobago, Rada ritual musicians in Haiti and the Ring Shouters of the Georgia Sea Islands.

Today, Mr. Dinizulu is one of the leading percussionists in the world. He has worked and performed with many great artists such as Toni Morrison, Alvin Ailey, Eartha Kitt, Geoffrey Holder, Carmen de Lavallade, Donald McKayle, Gregory Hines, Harold Roberts, Sonny Rollins, Nina Simone, Harry Belafonte, Wynton Marsalis, Jackie McLean, and Dizzie Gillespie to name a few.

According to Mr. Dinizulu, his objective in life is to help remove cultural ignorance as it exists on the planet and to educate and enrich the world through music. He is continually educating and sharing history and culture with the world through music. He also hopes that his contributions help to ensure that the terrible chapters of world history are never repeated.

To help achieve these goals, Mr. Dinizulu has worked with several domestic and international cultural organizations. One of these is UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. UNESCO has declared 2004 to be the International Year to Commemorate the Struggle against Slavery and its Abolition by the United Nations General Assembly. Mr. Dinizulu performed and lectured on Endangered African-American Instruments as a part of a UNESCO conference of scholars from around the world gathered at Tulane University.
Also, Mr. Dinizulu has worked with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, which is one of the world’s premier organizations for documenting, preserving, interpreting, and celebrating the culture and history of Black people worldwide. He has performed music and conducted traditional African rituals for the Schomburg Center. He performed at the 75th anniversary celebrations of the Schomburg Center which included pouring libation for the grand opening of the “Lest We Forget: The Triumph over Slavery Exhibit”.

Mr. Dinizulu has also performed libation and drumming at “A Harlem Tribute to the Freedom Schooner Amistad”. He performed the drum rituals to help bring the Amistad into port in Harlem, New York. The AMISTAD America Inc. is a non-profit educational organization which is dedicated to maintaining the legacy of the Amistad Incident of 1839. The Amistad saga consisted of 53 Africans who were captured from Sierra Leone and sold into Spanish slavery. At that time, slavery was banned in Spain. They were inhumanly treated. The case took historic proportions when these captives reached America and appealed to the courts for their freedom on the basis of the Spanish law. Former President John Quincy Adams argued on behalf of the captives and they were finally freed and returned to their homeland.

Apart from this, Mr. Dinizulu was a participant in the African-American delegation at the First Annual Emancipation Day Celebration in Ghana, West Africa in 1998 which was sponsored by the government of Ghana. The African-American delegation was responsible for the reinturnment of one escaped slave, Samuel Carson with a full state funeral. Emancipation Day is a remembrance of the abolition of Chattel Slavery.

The study of drumming and African culture is a lifetime process for Mr. Dinizulu. His encyclopedic knowledge of drums, percussion, and the art of drumming comes from his worldwide travels and studies of the music of other cultures as well as his heartfelt love for music and learning. He has assembled a group of the finest musicians from around the world, called the Kotoko Society with whom he composes and performs regularly.

Whether performing for dignitaries, patrons, students or children, the high-spirited music of Mr. Dinizulu is always completely infectious. His presence, positioned over his eight-foot carved drum with numerous other instruments hanging off of his body is one of the most fascinating images in contemporary music.